Umbria

It’s a dream vacation: Staying in an Italian farmhouse amid Tuscany’s rolling hills or Campania’s stunning plateaus, surrounded by rows of olive trees and sunflower blossoms. Italy was one of the first countries to successfully promote the agriturismo phenomenon, in which vacationers stay in a working farmhouse to truly immerse themselves in the culture and natural beauty of the nation. The results have been spectacular. Charmingly rustic resorts call to couples, families, and friends looking to explore Italy beyond its bustling cities. Discover seven of Oyster’s favorite farmhouses here.

1. Ripa Relais, Umbria 

ripa

This farmhouse resort is nestled in the Umbrian countryside on the slopes of Ripa’s ancient castle. The resort has 16 elegant rooms arrayed in three of four buildings, surrounded by landscaped gardens, cobblestone paths, and cypress and olive trees. An outdoor pool offers views of the surrounding fields, and the on-site restaurant, set in a former church, serves Umbrian and Tuscan cuisine. A stay here means utter relaxation in a rural environment. It’s a 20-minute drive to Perugia and Assisi.

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There’s cozy and then there’s spooky. And when it comes to the cavernous spaces of some of our favorite hotels, we’ll just have to let you be the judge. The dark corners and vaulted ceilings of these lair-like rooms often simply add a little extra oomph to the sultry ambiance of a romantic restaurant or a sexy spa, but we still can’t help but get a little spooked in these windowless spots. Here are six hotels that are home to some pretty cool (and kinda creepy?) caves.

Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Bermuda

Grotto Bay Beach

Bermuda’s Grotto Bay Beach Resort is home to the mother of all caves. Natural grottos can be found on the property, and weekly cave crawls explore the grottos’ vast nooks and crannies. Guests are free to swim and snorkel on their own, but if the idea of this makes you a bit tense, have no fear — the spa’s sole treatment room can be found in the subterranean space. The hotel’s private beach is also available for swimming and water sports.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

Staying in a hotel is exciting in and of itself; there’s something deliciously indulgent about staying in a room that’s totally different from your one at home… and it doesn’t hurt that it gets cleaned for you. But while the sole purpose of many hotels is nonetheless the crash pad amid sight-seeing and exploring new destinations, others are destinations unto themselves — that deserve some time on your sight-seeing agenda. From our many travels around the globe, we’ve picked out a dozen of the most beautiful hotels ever — all of which are housed in stunning historic castles or palaces. The following twelve spots are, quite literally, fit for a king.

1. Hotel Alhambra Palace, Granada

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The 126-room Hotel Alhambra Palace merits the adjective “grand” — the impressive building is more than a century old and, originally commissioned by King Alfonso XIII, once housed a hospital during the Spanish Civil War. A hotel since 1942, this property is a short quarter-mile away from the Alhambra (the palace and fortress complex dating back to the 11th century) up a steep hill. The lobby has keyhole archways and geometric textiles based on Moorish patterns, and the hotel exudes historic charm throughout.

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Worried about a Game of Thrones style invasion on your next trip? Roving hordes? Zombie armies? We totally feel you. Travel can be a bit scary, and if you’re the type that likes to feel extra secure when you get away, you might appreciate the idea of staying in a hotel that’s, well, fortified. These five hotels are actually in ancient fortresses, so if you find yourself needing to fend off rebel invaders on your next romantic retreat, you’ll at least have all the battlements, arrowslits, and watch towers your heart could desire right at hand. Hey, you never know…

Castello di Petroia, Umbria, Italy

Castello di PetroiaThe gorgeous Castello di Petroia dates all the way back to the 11th century; with a picturesque setting in the Umbrian countryside, it was at one time a medieval fortress. Back then this region consisted of vying independent city-states, and the fortress was the birthplace of the Duke of Urbino. Today, this 800-acre wooded estate is a charming and undeniably romantic retreat, with a seasonal pool and candlelit gourmet restaurant. The castle is comprised of three buildings: the Major Castellare, the main building with medieval halls and a library; the smaller Minor Castellare, where the castle’s guardian’s once lived; and the 66-foot Tower, which has a three-tiered guest room. The 13 individually-decorated rooms have historic flourishes such as stone arches, wood beams, and frescoed ceilings. Read More »

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pool--v2178798-1024Do you like Italy? Do you like castles? If you answered yes to either of those questions (and if you didn’t — seriously?), you’ll probably be into the gorgeous Castello di Monterone in the rolling hills of Umbria. This 13th-century castle has an impressive degree of preserved medieval character, and offers a romantic setting for a true getaway. One of our Italian investigators only just visited this stunning property, and we spent quite a while ogling it in the office. You can expect gorgeous stonework, breathtaking views,  battlements, and even a suit of armor (of course — this is a castle, in case we didn’t make that crystal clear). It’s almost hard to believe that these insanely beautiful photos are not remotely Photoshopped (if you’re new here, that’s kind of Oyster’s whole thing). Just be careful not to drool on your keyboard. Pinners, get ready.  Read More »

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